Since it first incorporated in 1950, the landscape of St. Matthews has changed as the city grew over the years. Former farms and horse stables became the site of new homes and stores. New businesses moved into the storefronts along Shelbyville Rd., mixing in with older businesses that had been serving the community for decades.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the sense of community. In 2016, when Independence Bank chose St. Matthews for its newest location, their goal was to be a positive part of that community. Louisville resident Louis Straub was selected as the President for the Louisville market. He not only brought 31 years of national banking experience with him, he also brought a long history of making his city a better place to live and work.
For Louis, it’s simple. You make the community you live in better, not just now, but for future generations. At Independence Bank, providing financial expertise to help the people who live and work in the area buy a new home or expand their businesses is just one part of the story. Their commitment to community extends well beyond the bank’s physical location and business hours.
From the ground up
Before they even broke ground, representatives from the bank presented a check to local organization Brightside for $17,760 for a beautification project planned for St. Matthews in 2019. They also worked with a local construction company to build the new location, which is modeled after the Independence Hall in Pennsylvania, but also includes a stained glass window over the lobby that showcases St. Matthews’ rich history.
As pleased as they were with the new location and the building, Louis and other employees also wanted to improve the surrounding area, and that led to a unique partnership between Independence Bank and TARC. The bus stop, which was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 10, 2019, was moved from the sidewalk onto the bank property, freeing up the sidewalk and allowing for a spacious, brick bus shelter with a wide roof that offers extra protection from the weather.
April also marked the launch of a time capsule initiative. The staff at Independence Bank asked for input from residents, businesses, and local schools on what items should be included in a time capsule that will be placed in the bank and opened in 2119, providing future residents with a glimpse of their past. Selected items will be on display at the bank this summer.
Around the city
Throughout the year, you’ll find Louis and other Independence Bank employees at area events like the Frankfort Ave. Easter Parade, Halloween in Brown Park and Light Up St. Matthews. They don’t just show up to man a booth as a sponsor; they take part in the event and enjoy the day as much as the attendees. “We take our business very seriously,” says Louis, “but we also want our employees to have fun, too.”
For Halloween in Brown Park, Louis dons an Alexander Hamilton costume, and he’s joined by Martha Washington and other key figures in America’s history. Treasury Management Officer Tracy Reid is a huge hit every year in her Headless Horseman costume. In fact, Louis says so many people wanted to take pictures with the Independence Bank employees at the event that they’re expanding to two booths this year so one can be dedicated to taking photographs with the kids and their families.
Going the extra mile isn’t just for community-wide events. In February of 2019, Independence Bank sponsored a PTA fundraiser that brought the Harlem Wizards to the gym of Waggener High School to play against the St. Matthews All-Stars. The event raised money for St. Matthews Elementary School, Lowe Elementary School and Waggener Athletics, but for the kids filling the gym it wasn’t about raising money, it was all about the fun.
“We thought it was a wonderful way to get introduced to families in community,” says Louis, who explains that they didn’t want to sit behind a folding table advertising checking accounts or just giving away pens. Instead, he and other employees helped make the event a success by giving out t-shirts, movie passes, and money prizes to kids as they went around the gym encouraging everyone to cheer for their favorite teacher or Harlem Wizard.
Giving back to the community isn’t a new idea at Independence Bank. It’s a part of the legacy of founder Charles Reid that his son, current CEO Chris Reid, has helped expand over the years. In each location where they do business, the bank sponsors events that are important to the communities they serve and provides funding to help improve the lives of the people living in those communities.
One program has special meaning to the Reid Family. Just before his death, Charles Reid requested that a scholarship program be built to help deserving high school students receive a college education. Since it was launched in 2001, the Independence Bank Scholarship Program has awarded more than a million dollars to help Kentucky teens continue their education.
Chris Reid says his father always told him that it’s not about the money; it’s about being involved. That’s a vision shared by Louis Straub. “What’s important is leaving the world a little better for our children and grandchildren.”